Tim Cook Personally Apologises For The Awful State Of Apple Maps

I said earlier that even Apple knows just how bad it screwed up Maps. I was talking collectively. As in 'wow, that Maps team in Cupertino must know something's up'. Turns out it goes much further than that. Apple's head honcho Tim Cook has just penned an open letter to the world's iOS users to apologise for borking Maps so, so badly.

Now before you sigh: yes, it's another Maps story, ok? But this one is important. The last thing Tim Cook used this language around was Ping, and we all know how that went.

Tim Cook made a few recommendations to Apple Maps users in the meantime, one of which is Google's own map software. The situation is so bad at Apple that Tim Cook is even recommending Bing Maps to Apple users. Bing. Maps. You know he just cried through typing every single one of those words on the company's website.

Here's the full, unadulterated open letter to Apple's customers from Mr Tim Cook himself:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook Apple’s CEO

The letter is posted at the bottom of the Apple homepage all over the world. Here's to Apple Maps 2.0 and a whole team of engineers being fired. [Apple]



    The sweet sweet taste of apple tears.

      In a weird Apple way this will build loyalty amoung the already loyal and breed further hate among the haters. Meanwhile those of us who dont really use map apps like myself are just interested when the iPad mini comes out.

        Those who have Apple products will likely rage a little about maps and then realise that they never really used them, while those who hate Apple products will seize this and feel like crusaders (in the truly deluded world on fanboyism) against other Apple fanboys. It's all rather...sad really, because everyone's emotions are just engineered by the marketing departments.

    Queue the Apple haters thinking they're victorious or some other crap.

    To me this is just good news that they're fully aware of what needs to be done and I have no doubt that they'll follow through with time.

      Except that Apple have never played that game. They've always launched a polished product AND improved it.

      Now they're just like Android.....oh dear....

        They've released crap before...they've done it plenty of times.

        No they are not like Android. The maps work fine in Android. Bigger screens too, NFC , not locked in ....

        Sorry but Apple did what? I hope you know that Apple NEVER launched a "polished" product. NONE of their hardware is even theirs. They took other companies products and put them all together and then sue all of those companies. Android couldn't have released a product since Android is an OS. Hopefully you can research before showing off your fanboyism.

      On every article about Apple Maps one of the top comments is always "Queue the Apple haters", it reminds me of youtube, you know, where certain people always post the same type of comment whatever the video is?
      Very strange.

        Maybe it's because Apple haters are so predictable. There's been hope recently though; fanboys are becoming fewer.

          The "Queue the Apple haters" comment is more predictable. It's interesting too, it's a way of attempting to undermine and miss-characterise criticism before it's made: a person who desperately feels the need to pre-emptively protect something.

        "NONE of their hardware is even theirs."
        Oh please, Apple have had initiative hardware since the IIE.

    how do i updrage to maps?

      UPgrade? Surely you mean DOWNgrade?

        No, he means updrage.


    What's that noise? That's Steve Jobs turning in his grave.......

      Steve Jobs never made mistakes and he never apologised.

      "To our customers who are affected by the issue, we are deeply sorry, and we are going to give you a free case or a full refund," Jobs said, according to a live transcript of the press conference by gdgt.


        The difference is that Cook released a product he knew everyone would know was still in beta whereas the case issue was one for Murphy's Law. The later is forgivable the former not.

        As read in other articles, Jobs only apologised after Cook pointed out comparisons between Jobs' attitude to the deathgrip issue and Microsoft's attitude prior to issues and how similar they were - smug and arrogant. Only then did Jobs make the apology.


    Would it really be the engineers that are fired? Because the problems weren't so much in the coding, as it was with the release date and data collection.
    Surely there's others who are more responsible.

      Well they need some staff around to fix it, so I can't see why they'd fire everyone.

      As it is, they've partnered with companies such as TomTom to get data. Certainly TomToms mapping tools don't perform that bad, so I'd be shocked if its just a case of poor data. Even if it was, Apple should have flagged the issue long ago.

    Didn't know bing had an app... I can survive with that!


    That was not a sincere apology. It was more of a marketing exercise. Very disappointing.

    Of course there are 100 million users. You can't back the bloody thing out to the old version!

    Also disappointing that most of the alternatives appear to not be on the australian app store.

    How can Apple be such a failure at this?

    What I find most interesting is the way he downplays the change. Apple didn't remove Google maps, they just created a new version of the Maps from the ground up. By taking ownership of the old program he is making it less about the politics behind the move.

    It seems like every sentence was carefully considered. That seems very Apple.

    I think it will be very interesting to see how this effects the sales.

      It won't affect sales at all. iPhone 5 will continue to be the best selling iPhone ever, and the best selling phone ever. Because the fact of the matter is that the maps "failure" barely affects anybody... Hardly anyone is using it to try to find an emergency room, and most people know their way around well enough that a few streets out of place isn't something they even realise.

        But Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple is telling us that over a hundred million people are using this app to find places, so out of that number you're bound to find a few million who are quite seriously perturbed by the current level of performance.

        It will probably serve to slow down sales a bit since this problem is being so widely broadcast in the press, but there won't be a drop because this has been such a long awaited upgrade finally from the 3Gs and 4G models- which the 4Gs was not seen to be.

        Except... You are wrong. A lot of people use Maps to find things. Not everyone lives in a little bubble of comfort, never straying fay from the protective dome.

        I now have a number of maps apps on my iPhone, as iMap has NFI where half the locations around me are. If I need to get to somewhere new, it not only can't find half of them, but wants me to drive on the other side of the road to get there. It deals with roundabouts as if you were American.

        It is, in a nutshell, a POS.

        You know I have been reading a bit about this issue. Along with making the mistake of reading SMH comments about a few things. But this has to be hands down the most stupid comment I have had the misfortune of reading recently if not ever. Seriously, I feel myself getting stupider by just having read it.
        Maps are meant to show you how to get from a to b. Apple Maps fails to do that simple task for a lot of people. Therefore it is a bad app that if it was released by anyone other then apple would probably have been pulled out of the app store. But there is no arguing with idiots so I will stop now just to save the intelligence I have left.

        My girlfriend's staying with her iPhone 4 with iOS 5. It is affecting at least that sale. She uses public transport and her odd jobs and appointments practically beg for Google Maps.

        Of all apps used maps and navigation are the most widely used. Stop distracting from the truth.

        " Our mobile habits have been laid bare in the latest Australian Mobile Phone Lifestyle Index (AMPLI) and it’s no surprise we love our tablets and smartphones.The most popular apps are maps and navigation (74 per cent), games (74 per cent), news and weather (73 per cent) and social networking (71 per cent). "

      We were talking about this last night and one of the interns, who is still at uni, freely admitted that she bought Apple products because that's what you buy and it didn't really matter to here whether or not they were any good. She freely acknowledged that iPhone 5 was probably no better than a mid-range offering and that it clearly has problems but said it wouldn't stop her upgrading next year when her contract is up. To her the alternative is not to find a better phone but to be a social pariah. With that kind of attitude around, Apple cannot possibly fail.

        Wow, do you automatically hate everyone who has an iPhone or something? I mean, you're usually rather denigrating when talking about people who use them, but that's just petty and antisocial now.

        A better question would by why she was hired...

        That's very interesting, MotorMouth.
        My experience is that this type of peer pressure usually fades away when people reach mid to late 20s. Eventually people stop doing things just 'cause all their friends are doing it.

    Wow, maybe you can stop posting article after article about a problem that only affects hobos who use public transport that love to whine incessantly now...

      What, you've never needed a map to go somewhere you've never been before? What a sheltered life you must lead.

      Wow, how about you go back to the fridge and get some more Apple Kool-aid. I can't remember the last time I DIDN'T use Google Maps once a week minimum.

        OH YEAH!

    Remind me again how many billions of cash Apple had in the bank while it sat around and didn't fix maps prior to the launch...?

      Not all problems can be solved by throwing more money or staff at it.

        Ones like this could've ... Infact that's exactly how they could've fixed it.

          Except short of buying out a competing product outright, that wouldn't have given them more time which in many cases is a resource just as important as money.

            Increased cashflow into a project means you can increase the amount of employees working on it and resources at hand. I'm not sure if you've ever worked on a large scale project but cashflow directly affects scope. By funneling far more resources into it, widening the base of beta testing and ensuring a better product hits the market (even if it were held back a little while), then yes, money and manpower would have been EXACTLY what this project needed.

            How on earth do you not see that?

              I think Richard is saying that Google maps is 7 years old, whereas 1 billion dollars spent solely on map-developing is unlikely to adequately replace 7 years of work.
              As a side note, his reply is quite reasonable, while yours is quite condescending. I highly doubt his intellect differs greatly from yours; perhaps being civil online wouldn't see such a bad thing.

                Sigh *be.

                More or less. More money does help, but it's not the only resource out there.

                Many of the things mentioned above such as "widening the scope of testing" and the like also feed back into time restraints. It's a somewhat common phase, but there is some truth to the term "too many cooks in the kitchen". Sometimes it isn't more people you need, but something else be it access to something you dont have (IP, licenses, whatever) or just time.

                Certainly there are historically other projects that have had issues despite huge budgets....Windows Longhorn would be one where despite having the resources, some ill conceived initial goals lead to a lot of work being thrown away mid project.

                But ultimately I don't know enough about the Apple's map project to say if it was a lack of funds or something else that lead to where we are now.

    How many billions did Apple donate to fixing any sort of disease in the world? Nothing that I know of. While Gates and Microsoft have been spending big to wipe polio off the planet Apple have been planning how they can squirrel more money into their coffers offering a sub standard application in a phone that introduced no new technology.. AppleFail AGAIN!

      The Gates foundation isn't Microsofts venture for a start. Secondly, Apple does have a donation matching scheme ( http://appleinsider.com/articles/11/11/10/apples_charitable_matching_program_raises_2_6m_for_nonprofits.html). It may not be heaps, but it's not like they necessarily owe it to anyone too.

      I'm sure 90% of Australians could give up 10% of their income and still manage to get by too...

    But seriously, has Apple never heard of beta testers?

      To be fair I think the sorts of problems that have shown up just simply can't be seen in an smaller scale test.

        Can't be seen in smaller scale tests? You mean they can't test the basic functionality that end users are guaranteed to use? I've already seen some of my friends with iPhones complain about this and they weren't exactly using some secret, super-advanced, search techniques. Nope they were using the app in the same basic way everyone is going to use it. And it failed.

        They definitely didn't test properly, or at least they didn't let themselves be too bothered by the sub-par results (I mean I highly doubt they didn't actually know it was bad) cause they knew people would buy-in/be forced into using it anyway.

    How about less apology letters and more selling stuff that works properly ?

    Might be a start.

      But this way they can tell you how much Apple has improved once it does work! Improvement is always good! Even if you have just smashed your baseline way, way down below that of your competition.

    The biggest issue here is that this thing was in beta and we inc apple all knew what was wrong with it - yet they still released it knowing full well how faulty it was and apple figured who cares our customers will get over it. It's a management issue - as a person who build the app I doubt they would have been happy to release the product the blame is squarely with bosses and cook for allowing a faulty product to be released.

    There is now a get maps in your iOS on the featured App Store.

    When has another company put the hands up and said "we r sorry we fucked up, we will fix things up " and go on to fix things? Of course history did have this very similar issue with the launch of iCloud. Loads of companies launch half baked stuff and just keep selling them. For example the Antenna Gate. Apple proved that on so many other phones there were also YouTube videos of no apple phone with antenna gate. No manufacturer ever acknowledged it or apologised. Microsoft never apologised for Windows Vista.

      True that very rarely do we get an apology; but then, very rarely is anybody stupid enough to release a half baked, sub par, frankly dangerous ( Just yesterday, my iPhone 5 told me to turn into oncoming traffic) alternative to an already existing and perfectly Functional product. Vista may have been poorly designed, but it never hurt anyone.

      MS with the Xbox 360 and the 3 year warranty followed by the Slim console...

      Sony with the Network outage. Free games for all plus increased security.

      Nintendo with the overpriced 3DS and its immediate price drop and free games for early adopters.

      Apologies from companies is not a new thing. Stop acting like it is.

        Microsoft with Windows ME, acknowledging it was a subpar, broken OS and rushing Windows XP to the market to replace it merely 8 - 8 months later.

          And XP was the best operating system (until 7), while Vista was terrible right from launch and even just usable after significant patching. I'd say from this that mistakes aren't really as bad as they seem at the time.

            To be fair, XP was hardly great upon initial release, in its release candidate form, it was only a few steps ahead of WinME (It INSTALLED for one) and networked properly. It then got SP1 which pushed it far ahead, stabilised it majorly, then SP2 hit which drove it forward being the optimal OS of choice.

    It's definately not as good as google maps but i haven't had a problem with it yet

      Loads of ppl have said their GPS took them to a rail line, into a lake etc. I suppose ppl do use their common sense when driving like looking at traffic signs etc as there is no GPS map which is real time updated. So they are prone to error. No saying Apple maps are perfect. But just stating if u drive into oncoming traffic it is well and truly your fault

    Poor Apple I'm really shedding a tear for the juggernaut.

    Apple. The only brand with 5 million beta testers wiling to pay for the privilege.

    Probably they just pirated it perhaps... Like most windows users

      What, as opposed to being required to buy an overpriced machine for the "benefit" of running Mac OSX and the ability to swap your machine for refurbished parts. Most all people are licenced a copy of Windows with their machines, just like Apple, but with much less overhead. Don't even get me started on student versions Microsoft provide, cheap to free and family packs. Sure you get $20 upgrades, but only after paying through the nose for shinies.

      You make fun, but even with the tacky installation parties and Windows Vista, Microsoft aren't treating the public like absolute cash cows, now more than ever.

    No they actually have "Windows Installation Party"

      Yes, those happen a lot. People go to them and swap car keys... I hear they're pretty exciting; dwarfs wandering around with bowls of cocaine on their heads and all that.

    The cost to Apple's brand - devaluing the hard earned positioning of ''it just works'' - will ultimately be far more than the money they saved by releasing a sub par product.

Join the discussion!